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    Executive Session

    by Former Senator Carl Levin

    Posted on 2013-02-13

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    LEVIN. Mr. President, now that the nomination of Senator Hagel is before us, I want to begin this discussion and debate with a few remarks about him. The committee approved this nomination and sent it to the floor of the Senate yesterday by a vote of 14 to 11.



    Senator Hagel has received broad support from a wide array of senior statesmen, defense, and foreign policy [[Page S681]] organizations. At his January 31 nomination hearing before the Armed Services Committee, Senator Hagel was enthusiastically introduced and endorsed by two former chairmen of our committee, chairmen who have huge bipartisan support and respect by everybody in this body and everybody outside of this body who knows them. Those two chairmen are Sam Nunn and John Warner.

    Senator Hagel's nomination has been endorsed by five former Secretaries of Defense who served under both Democratic and Republican Presidents: Bob Gates, Bill Cohen, Bill Perry, Harold Brown, and Melvin Laird. He has been endorsed by three former Secretaries of State-- Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, and George Shultz--and by six former National Security Advisers who served in that position for more than 20 years under six of the last seven Presidents.

    Let me just share with our colleagues a few of the words of Senator Nunn when he introduced Senator Hagel to our committee: I believe our Nation is fortunate to have a nominee for Secretary of Defense with the character, experience, courage and the leadership that Chuck Hagel would bring to this position. First, Chuck is acutely aware that even in an age of rapid technological advances, our military capability and effectiveness depend on the quality and the morale of the people who serve our Nation in uniform, as well as the families who support them.

    Continuing: Chuck received two Purple Hearts in Vietnam, and when he returned home he continued to fight for veterans and for Active-Duty military personnel. He knows that our people are our strongest asset. Second, Chuck's experience in Vietnam shaped his life and his perspective. War for Chuck Hagel is not abstraction. I am confident, if confirmed, he will ask the hard and smart questions before sending troops into battle. Chuck Hagel knows the United States has vital interests that are worth fighting for and dying for. He also knows that war should be a last resort and that our Nation must effectively use all of our tools, not limited only to our military, to protect our important and our vital interests.

    Senator Nunn continued: Certainly there is a tension in these values, but it is a tension that we should welcome in the thought process and in the advice that our Secretary of Defense gives to our Commander in Chief and to this Congress.

    From our service together on the Defense Policy Board in recent years, I know that Chuck Hagel has a clear world view and that it aligns with the mainstream of U.S. foreign and defense policy, and also with President Obama. Chuck Hagel believes that we must build and preserve America's strength as a force for good in the world. He recognizes that protecting our interests requires strong allies and friends, as well as strong American leadership.

    Senator Warner's extraordinarily powerful and warm comments included as follows: There is an old saying in the combat army infantry and Marine Corps. ``Certain men are asked to take the point.'' Which means to get out and lead in the face of the enemy. Chuck Hagel did that as a sergeant in Vietnam. If confirmed, Chuck Hagel will do it again. This time not before a platoon but before every man and woman and their families in the Armed Services. He will lead them and they will know in their hearts that we have one of our own.

    Senator Hagel has received a letter of endorsement from 11 retired senior military officers who say Chuck Hagel is uniquely qualified to meet the challenges facing the Department of Defense and our men and women in uniform.

    He has received a letter of endorsement from nine former Ambassadors who worked with him on Middle East issues. That letter says, in part: Each of us has known the Senator over the past 20 years and has found him invariably one of the best informed leaders in the U.S. Congress on the issues of U.S. national security. . . . Senator Hagel's political courage has impressed us all. . . . Time and again he chose to take the path of standing up for our nation over political expediency. . . . He has invariably demonstrated strong support for Israel and for a two-state solution and has been opposed to those who would undermine or threaten Israel's security. We can think of few more qualified, more nonpartisan, more courageous, or better equipped to head the Department of Defense.

    That is from nine former Ambassadors who worked with Senator Hagel on Middle East issues. Let me read who those Ambassadors are: Nicholas Burns, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Ambassador to NATO and Greece; Ryan Crocker, former Ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan; Edward Djerejian, former Ambassador to Israel and Syria; William Harrop, former Ambassador to Israel; Daniel Kurtzer, former Ambassador to Israel and to Egypt; Samuel Lewis, former Ambassador to Israel; William Luers, former Ambassador to Venezuela and Czechoslovakia; Tom Pickering, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Ambassador to Israel and Russia; and Frank Wisner, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and Ambassador to Egypt and to India.

    Senator Hagel's nomination has been supported by the major groups of American veterans, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, AMVETS, Vietnam Veterans of America, and the American Legion. He has received support from the Military Officers Association of America, Foreign Area Officer Association, and the Non Commissioned Officers Association.

    Senator Hagel has been endorsed by numerous newspapers, including USA Today, which stated: Many of the supposed weaknesses that Republican Senators hammered him on are actually proof that Hagel takes thoughtful positions and doesn't bend easily to pressure.

    I would like to read just a few quotes from those organizations of veterans who have endorsed him. The Veterans of Foreign Wars says the following: It is not the place for America's oldest and largest combat veterans organization to advise or recommend to the President who he should nominate for cabinet positions. However, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States considers Chuck Hagel, twice wounded Vietnam War veteran, war infantryman, and former two-term United States Senator from Nebraska, to be uniquely qualified to lead the Department of Defense.

    That is signed by Robert Wallace, who is executive director of the VFW.

    The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America wrote the following: Without Senator Hagel's leadership in Washington, there would not be a post 9/11 GI bill. Senator Hagel has always been a strong advocate for veterans at the Department of Defense. There is no doubt he will continue that legacy. Time and time again, from Vietnam to the VA to the USO, Senator Hagel has answered his country's call to serve, demonstrating courage, character and resolve at every turn. We encourage the Senate to approve his nomination swiftly.

    Paul Rieckhoff, Founder and Chief Executive Officer.

    The AMVETS National Commander Cleve Geer endorsed President Obama's nomination of Chuck Hagel with the following comments: AMVETS fully supports President Obama's nomination of Chuck Hagel for the future Secretary of Defense. As a veterans service organization, AMVETS' main mission is to serve as an advocate for veterans, their families and the communities in which they live. I am confident that former Senator Hagel will utilize his experience and understanding of America's military to lead this Nation's troops and the Department of Defense.

    The organization votevets.org wrote the following in a petition signed by over 8,000 veterans and military families: Senator Hagel is a tremendous pick for Secretary of Defense who I know very well, and I have little doubt that he will serve President Obama with distinction both as a voice of reason within the administration and as a faithful advocate for carrying out the policies of the Commander in Chief.

    That was signed by John Soltz.

    The Military Officers Association of America wrote the following: While the Military Officers Association of America does not endorse or oppose specific candidates for elected or appointed office, we believe Senator Hagel is certainly a candidate who is fully qualified for appointment to this extremely important position. Our past work with Senator Hagel has been very positive, and we believe that he brings an important sensitivity to the human side of budget and operational considerations. His experience as a combat wounded Vietnam veteran, as deputy administrator of the VA, and his two terms in the Senate provide a range of perspectives that would serve any Secretary of Defense well. We previously recognized Senator Hagel's efforts to protect the interests of military beneficiaries with our Arthur T. Marix Congressional Leadership Award. We do not believe that cabinet nominees should be held hostage to political litmus tests.

    That was signed by ADM Norbert Ryan, USN, retired, President of the Military Officers Association of America.

    The Non Commissioned Officers Association of the United States wrote the following: We strongly support the appointment of Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense. His [[Page S682]] military service, including being twice wounded in action, has instilled the values of service and personal sacrifice for which he knows well the human cost of war. He has been an advocate for soldiers, Marines, sailors, airmen and coasties to ensure the training and equipage of America's 21st military force coincide with a solid revised defense posture to meet conventional and unconventional world challenges. Senator Hagel has also championed personnel issues relating to combat dwell time, force protection, transition issues, including electronic medical issues, preparation for future employment and training, and veterans benefits, including enhancements to post 9/11 educational benefits. He also recognizes the value and the sacrifice of families of the men and women who serve in this Nation's uniformed services.

    That was signed by Richard Schneider, executive director for government affairs.

    The Vietnam Veterans of America wrote: We like Hagel. We think he is a great guy, and having a combat veteran in there would be a good thing.

    The American Legion wrote: Hagel is a long-time member of the Legion. He served right after he returned from Vietnam. He is a long-time advocate for veterans in the VA, and especially for veterans exposed to Agent Orange. Our organization has consulted with him, among others, on various national security matters. Having said that, the American Legion is prohibited by our congressional charter from endorsing any candidate for elected or appointed office.

    The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Jan Scruggs, founder and president, wrote the following: I first met Mr. Hagel in 1981 when he was the No. 2 man at the Veterans Administration. He had just thrown out of his office some people who were demanding that he stop his support for Maya Lin's design for the Vietnam veterans memorial. His integrity and toughness were impressive then. Both qualities have grown since. Long before he became a Senator, Mr. Hagel was an infantryman in Vietnam. He fought the enemy up close, and he had to put Americans in body bags. I am sure as defense secretary he would not hesitate to use military force aggressively if our Nation or its allies are in danger, yet he knows well that war is terribly unpredictable and needs to be avoided. He has shown some fury at those who have never seen war, but encouraged it during the past decade. This is called courage. He has earned his stripes.

    Senator Hagel's credentials are underscored by the service in war and in peace that has been described so eloquently in all those letters from those veterans organizations. As a young man, Senator Hagel enlisted in the Army and served in Vietnam, where he received two Purple Hearts, the Army Commendation Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge for his service.

    He volunteered to go to Vietnam. He answered the question, where are you, by answering, here I am. Senator Hagel served as Deputy Administrator of the Veterans' Administration during the Reagan administration. He was twice elected to the Senate, where he served on the Foreign Relations and Intelligence Committees.

    Since he left the Senate 4 years ago, Senator Hagel has served as chairman of the board of directors of the Atlantic Council. The Atlantic Council counts among its other directors and honorary directors seven former Secretaries of State and four former Secretaries of Defense, along with numerous other senior officials from the administrations of both parties. The Atlantic Council is very much a part of the mainstream of the American foreign policy establishment.

    Much of the time and attention at our committee hearing was devoted to a handful of statements Senator Hagel made over the course of his career that raised questions about his views on Israel, Iran, and other issues.

    Senator Hagel explained and clarified these things and placed them in context. He apologized for one remark, and told the committee he would say other things differently if he had the chance or was making them over. Senator Hagel was clear in the positions he takes today and that he will take if confirmed as Secretary of Defense. In particular, Senator Hagel stated unequivocally, first: Iran poses a significant threat to the United States, our allies and partners, and our interests in the region and globally. Iran continues to pursue an illicit nuclear program that threatens to provoke a regional arms race and undermine the global non-proliferation regime. Iran is also one of the main state-sponsors of terrorism and could spark conflict, including against U.S. personnel and interests.

    Second, he is ``. . . fully committed to the President's goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon . . . all options must be on the table to achieve that goal . . .'' and his policy, if confirmed, will be ``one of prevention, not of containment.'' Third, while he believes ``engagement is clearly in our interests,'' ``engagement is not negotiation.'' He stated: I've never thought engagement is weakness. I never thought it was surrender. I never thought it was appeasement. I think it's clearly in our interest. . . . [G]et the international sanctions behind you, keep military options on the table. If the military option is the only option, it's the only option.

    Finally, he said that he is ``a strong supporter of Israel,'' and believes that ``we have a special relationship with Israel.'' If confirmed, he ``will ensure our friend and ally Israel maintains its qualitative military edge in the region, and will continue to support systems like Iron Dome, which is today saving Israeli lives from terrorist rocket attacks.'' Senator Hagel has also recognized the very real risks posed to our national security as a result of the unique budgetary pressure arising out of cuts previously agreed upon by Congress, the budgeting by continuing resolution, and the impending threat of a sequester. Senator Hagel told the committee: [Sequestration] if allowed to occur, would damage our readiness, our people, and our military families. It would result in the grounding of aircraft and returning ships to port, reducing the Department's global presence and ability to rapidly respond to contingencies. Vital training would be reduced by half of current plans and the Department would be unable to reset equipment from Afghanistan in a timely manner. The Department would reduce training and maintenance for non-deploying units and would be forced to reduce procurement of vital weapons systems and suffer the subsequent schedule delays and price increases. Civilian employees would be furloughed for up to 22 days. All of these effects also negatively impact long-term readiness. It would send a terrible signal to our military and civilian workforce, to those we hope to recruit, and to both our allies and adversaries around the world.

    One of our colleagues has alleged that Senator Hagel has failed to provide complete financial disclosure and suggested, despite the admitted lack of evidence of any kind, that Senator Hagel may have received money that ``came directly from Saudi Arabia, came directly from North Korea.'' There is no evidence for that, but that is the kind of innuendo which was made and I believe should not have been made.

    As a matter of fact, Senator Hagel has provided the exact same financial disclosure the committee requires of all nominees, including at least the last eight Secretaries of Defense. As required by the Armed Services Committee and by the Ethics in Government Act, he has disclosed all compensation over $5,000 that he has received in the last 2 years. As required by the Armed Services Committee, he has received letters from the Director of the Office of Government Ethics and the Acting Department of Defense General Counsel certifying that he has met all applicable financial disclosure and conflict-of-interest requirements. As required by the Armed Services Committee, he has answered a series of questions about possible foreign affiliations. Among other questions, the committee asked whether, during the last 10 years, the nominee or his spouse have ``received any compensation from, or been involved in any financial or business transaction with, a foreign government or an entity controlled by a foreign government.'' Senator Hagel's answer was, ``No.'' Senator Hagel, like all of our nominees, has undergone a thorough FBI background investigation. Senator Inhofe and I have reviewed the FBI file. The innuendo that Senator Hagel could somehow be hiding the fact he is on the payroll of a foreign power is offensive to those of us who have served with him and beneath the dignity of the U.S. Senate.

    I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record a series of letters in which certain Senators requested certain financial disclosure and the letter with which I responded.

    There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows: [[Page S683]] U.S. Senate, Committee on Armed Services, Washington, DC, February 8, 2013.

    Hon. Jim Inhofe, Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate.

    Dear Jim: I read with some concern a February 6, 2013, letter that you signed with 25 other Republican Senators, demanding that former Senator Chuck Hagel provide additional financial disclosure information in connection with his nomination to serve as Secretary of Defense. This letter appears to insist upon financial disclosure requirements that far exceed the standard practices of the Armed Services Committee and go far beyond the financial disclosure required of previous Secretaries of Defense.

    Our committee has a well-defined set of financial disclosure and ethics requirements which apply to all nominees for civilian positions in the Department of Defense. We require each nominee to provide us with the following: a copy of the Nominee Public Financial Disclosure Report required by the Ethics in Government Act--OGE Form 278; a response to a standard committee questionnaire, which includes questions on future employment relationships, potential conflicts of interest, personal financial data, and foreign affiliations; and a formal ethics agreement, which outlines the steps the nominee will take to avoid any potential conflict of interest, including a commitment by the nominee to divest DOD contractor stocks within 90 days of appointment to office, avoid buying DOD contractor stocks while in office, and resign from non-Federal boards and activities.

    Before these materials are provided to the committee, they are reviewed by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) and the DOD General Counsel's office--both of which are familiar with the unique conflict of interest requirements imposed by our committee--to ensure that the required disclosures of information meet our standards. The leader of each of these offices sends us a letter certifying that the office has reviewed the financial disclosure and determined that the nominee will be in compliance with applicable laws and regulations governing conflicts of interest. Our majority and minority counsels review these materials and work together, through the DOD General Counsel's office, to address any questions that may arise about the completeness of the materials provided or the nominee's compliance with our requirements.

    We have applied these disclosure requirements and followed this process for all nominees of both parties throughout the 16 years that I have served as Chairman or Ranking Minority Member of the committee. I understand that the same financial disclosure requirements and processes were followed for at least the previous 10 years, during which Senator Sam Nunn served as Chairman or Ranking Minority Member. During this period, the committee has confirmed eight Secretaries of Defense (Secretaries Carlucci, Cheney, Aspin, Perry, Cohen, Rumsfeld, Gates, and Panetta), as well as hundreds of nominees for other senior civilian positions in the Department.

    There are two unprecedented elements to the financial disclosure demanded by the February 6, letter: (1) the disclosure of ``all compensation over $5,000 that [Senator Hagel has] received over the past five years''; and (2) the disclosure of any foreign funding of eight private entities from which Senator Hagel has received compensation since leaving the Senate (including the date, source, and specific amount of each foreign contribution). Each of these demands goes well beyond what the committee has required of any previous nominee.

    With regard to the demand that Senator Hagel disclose all compensation over $5,000 that he has received over the past five years, the standard financial disclosure form which the committee requires all nominees to provide calls for the disclosure of all entities from which the nominee has received compensation in excess of $5,000 (including clients for whom the nominee personally provided more than $5,000 in services, even if the payments were made to the nominee's employer, firm, or affiliated business) during the previous two years. The two-year disclosure requirement that has been consistently applied by the committee is established in section 102(b)(1)(A) of the Ethics in Government Act and applies not only to all nominees for Senate-confirmed positions, but also to all candidates for federal elective office.

    With regard to the demand that Senator Hagel disclose foreign funding for private entities from which he has received compensation, the February 6 letter asserts that this information is needed because ``If it is the case that [Senator Hagel] personally [has] received substantial financial remuneration--either directly or indirectly--from foreign governments, sovereign wealth funds, lobbyists, corporations, or individuals, that information is at the very minimum relevant to this Committee's assessment of your nomination.'' In fact, the committee questionnaire addresses the issue of foreign affiliations in a manner that is equally applicable to all civilian nominees coming before the committee. Among other questions, the committee questionnaire asks whether, during the last ten years, the nominee or his spouse has ``received any compensation from, or been involved in any financial or business transactions with, a foreign government or an entity controlled by a foreign government.'' Senator Hagel's answer to this question was ``No.'' The demands of the February 6 letter go beyond this standard disclosure regime and would subject Senator Hagel to a different requirement from all previous nominees, under which he alone would be required to somehow ascertain whether certain entities with whom he has been employed may have received foreign contributions. In particular: Senator Hagel serves without compensation as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Atlantic Council--a ``think tank'' that includes among its other Directors and Honorary Directors seven former Secretaries of States and four former Secretaries of Defense. The Atlantic Council's public website provides a diverse list of corporate contributors, including both domestic companies (such as Chevron, General Dynamics, Lockheed, Raytheon, Boeing, Citigroup, Duke Energy, and Exxon Mobil) and foreign entities (such as Polish Telecom, Saab, All Nippon Airways, and the Istanbul Stock Exchange). Over the 16 years that I have served as either Chairman or Ranking Minority Member of the committee, we have considered numerous nominations of individuals who were associated with similar think tanks, universities, and other non-profit entities. Even in the many cases where a nominee received compensation from such a nonprofit entity, we did not require the nominee to disclose the sources of funding provided to the non-profit entity.

    Senator Hagel has also served as an Advisory Board Member, Senior Advisor, Director, Special Advisor, or Board Member to seven domestic for-profit entities identified in the February 6 letter since he left the Senate in January 2009. His financial disclosure report and committee questionnaire indicate that he left four of these entities (Wolfensohn & Company, National Interest Security Company, Elite Training & Security, and Kaseman, LLC) in 2010 and has received no compensation from them during the two-year reporting period covered by the Ethics in Government Act. Nonetheless, the February 6 letter demands that Senator Hagel provide ten years of corporate financial data on foreign investments or funding received by these entities. The forms and committee questionnaire indicate that Senator Hagel continues to serve as an Advisory Board Member for Corsair Capital, a Senior Advisor to McCarthy Capital, and a Special Advisor to the Chairman of M.I.C. Industries and that he has received compensation for his service to these three entities. I am doubtful that, as mere advisor to these companies, Senator Hagel has either access to the corporate financial information that is sought in the February 6 letter or the authority to release such information if he were able to get access to it. In any case, over the 16 years that I have served as either Chairman or Ranking Minority Member of the committee, we have considered numerous nominations of individuals who were employed by for-profit entities of every variety. We have considered board members, officers, directors, and employees of companies doing business across the full range of our economy. In this time, we have never required the nominee to attempt to ascertain and disclose the names of investors in such an entity.

    The committee cannot have two different sets of financial disclosure standards for nominees, one for Senator Hagel and one for other nominees.

    Sincerely, Carl Levin, Chairman.

    ____ U.S. Senate, Washington, DC, February 6, 2013.

    Hon. Chuck Hagel, Distinguished Professor in the Practice of National Government, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, 37th and O Streets, NW, Washington, DC.

    Dear Senator Hagel: On January 29, two days before your confirmation hearing, you received a request, via email, from several Senators on the Senate Armed Services Committee for additional information necessary to fairly assess your nomination to be Secretary of Defense. The written copy of the letter (delivered the next day) was signed by six Senators, including the Ranking Member of the Committee. The letter requested that you respond to the request before the hearing, so that you could then answer questions concerning your responses.

    You declined to respond to the request for additional financial disclosure.

    At the hearing, you were told by Members of the Committee that a response to our request for information would be necessary before the Committee could vote on your nomination. The Chairman of the Committee expressly asked you to submit your response by Monday, February 4.

    Monday came and went, and you still did not respond.

    At the end of the day on Tuesday, February 5, you submitted a short ``response'' to our request. In that response, you explicitly declined to answer many of the questions asked of you.

    You were asked to disclose all compensation over $5,000 that you have received over the past five years. You declined to do so.

    You were asked to disclose if--and to what specific extent--the Atlantic Council has received foreign funding in the past five years. You declined to do so.

    You were asked to disclose if--and to what specific extent--McCarthy Capital has received foreign funding in the past ten years. You declined to do so, [[Page S684]] You were asked to disclose if--and to what specific extent--Corsair Capital has received foreign funding in the past ten years. You declined to do so.

    You were asked to disclose if--and to what specific extent--Wolfensohn and Company has received foreign funding in the past ten years. You declined to do so.

    You were asked to disclose if--and to what specific extent--M.I.C. Industries has received foreign funding in the past ten years. You declined to do so.

    You were asked to disclose if--and to what specific extent--the National Interest Security Company has received foreign funding in the ten years. You declined to do so.

    You were asked to disclose if--and to what specific extent--Elite Training and Security, LLC has received foreign funding in the past ten years. You declined to do so.

    You were asked to disclose if--and to what specific extent--Kaseman, LLC has received foreign funding in the past ten years. You declined to do so.

    Your own financial records are entirely within your own control, and you have flatly refused to comply with the Committee Members' request for supplemental information.

    The records from the other firms--more than one of which, you have disclosed, paid you $100,000 or more--are highly relevant to the proper consideration of your nomination. Your letter discloses no affirmative efforts on your part to obtain the needed disclosure, and your lack of effort to provide a substantive response on this issue is deeply troubling.

    If it is the case that you personally have received substantial financial remuneration--either directly or indirectly--from foreign governments, sovereign wealth funds, lobbyists, corporations, or individuals, that information is at the very minimum relevant to this Committee's assessment of your nomination. Such remuneration may be entirely appropriate, but that determination cannot be made without disclosure.

    If you have not received remuneration--directly or indirectly--from foreign sources, then proper disclosure will easily demonstrate that fact.

    Your refusal to respond to this reasonable request suggests either a lack of respect for the Senate's responsibility to advise and consent or that you are for some reason unwilling to allow this financial disclosure to come to light.

    This Committee, and the American people, have a right to know if a nominee for Secretary of Defense has received compensation, directly or indirectly, from foreign sources. Until the Committee receives full and complete answers, it cannot in good faith determine whether you should be confirmed as Secretary of Defense.

    Therefore, in the judgment of the undersigned, a Committee vote on your nomination should not occur unless and until you provide the requested information.

    Sincerely, (Signed by 26 Senators).

    ____ February 8, 2013.

    Hon. Carl Levin, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.

    Hon. James Inhofe, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.

    Dear Chairman Levin and Ranking Member Inhofe: I appreciate the opportunity to respond to the February 6, 2013, letter from 25 Senators, including several members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. I remain committed to providing the Committee with complete personal financial disclosure, in accordance with the applicable requirements of law and regulation. In the spirit of cooperation, I have gone beyond those requirements in several areas. For example, although the committee questionnaire requires that nominees provide copies of ``any formal speeches,'' I have sought transcripts of informal speeches of which I did not have copies, and provided those transcripts to the committee.

    In that same spirit of cooperation, I have reviewed each of the specific requests for information described in your letter. While some of these requests appear to go beyond what is either in my control or is mine to release under the law, I am committed to providing what I can--and when I cannot, to explain why not.

    As you know, I previously submitted all of the information required by the Committee's standard financial disclosure processes. This includes information regarding compensation that I received over the past two years, as reported on the Nominee Public Financial Disclosure Report in Schedule D. To assist you in reviewing this information, I have prepared a chart that reflects all compensation over $5,000 I received for that time period.

    Further, you asked questions about whether, and the extent to which, eight identified entities (with which I have been affiliated) have received foreign funding in the past. As I explained in my response to the Committee, dated February 5, 2013, my legal and fiduciary obligations prevent me from releasing this kind of corporate financial information for those entities that are privately owned/held. One of the entities that you inquired about, Atlantic Council, is a 501(c)(3) organization which permits greater public disclosure of its funding Streams. While Atlantic Council does not make public a comprehensive list of all its donors, it does publicly acknowledge its foreign corporate and foreign government donors of $5,000 or more. I have attached a copy of Atlantic Council's publicly available list of these foreign donors over the past five years. Because I serve without compensation, I have not been a direct or indirect beneficiary of these contributions. Of the remaining seven companies, McCarthy Capital, Wolfensohn, M.I.C. Industries, National Interest Security Company, Kaseman, and Elite Training & Security have authorized me to inform you that they have not compensated me with any foreign-derived funds. Corsair Capital has been advised by its outside counsel that it cannot provide further information regarding its finances.

    I wish to reiterate that I have not received any compensation from or been involved in any financial or business transactions with a foreign government or an entity controlled by a foreign government. This is reflected in my response to the SASC Questionnaire, Question 3, Part E-- Foreign Affiliations.

    Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your questions.

    Sincerely, Chuck Hagel.

    Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, the Department of Defense right now needs its new leader. Its current leader, who has done a great job, has announced he is leaving and has set a time for that departure.

    We face a budgetary challenge of immense proportions--not just in the Department of Defense but in all of our agencies. Our military is engaged in combat operations overseas. North Korea has exploded a nuclear device--highly provocative, highly objectionable--and must be countered. The absence of senior leaders in the Department of Defense will harm our national defense, will harm our men and women in uniform, and sends exactly the wrong message to both our friends and our adversaries around the world.

    If confirmed, Senator Hagel would be the first former enlisted man and the first veteran of the Vietnam war to serve as Secretary of Defense. This background gives Senator Hagel an invaluable perspective not only with respect to the difficult decisions and recommendations a Secretary of Defense must make regarding the use of force and the commitment of U.S. troops overseas but also with respect to the day-to- day decisions a Secretary must make to ensure our men and women in uniform and their families receive the support and the assistance they need and deserve. It would be a positive message for our soldiers, our sailors, our airmen, and our marines in harm's way around the world to know that one of their own holds the highest office in the Department of Defense and that he has their backs.

    The President needs to have a Secretary of Defense in whom he has trust, who will give him unvarnished advice, a person of integrity, and one who has a personal understanding of the consequences of decisions relative to the use of military force. Senator Hagel certainly has those critically important qualifications and he is well qualified to lead the Department of Defense.

    Mr. President, I yield the floor.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Brown.) The senior Senator from Rhode Island is recognized.

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